Nothing New Under the Sun

Chapter 4 - Come, it's day out already.

© 2007 by Ghaidin

This page was last modified: 2007/04/02

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Within a week, Camus and I arrive at Sanctuary and the Kyoko's chambers. I present him as the last candidate to the Aquarius Cloth, a child of remarkable talent, and explain his odd disease. The kyoko finally gets up from his throne and approaches the child, kneeling to get a better look at him. He pushes his bluish hair back and the mask gets very close to his face. I'm proud of Camus, who doesn't back down and just stiffens slightly at this unusually close inspection.

I know Shion is probing the child's potential, and I'm sure he will not be disappointed, Camus is by far the aptest candidate I have ever seen. If there were such a thing as natural gold saint, this child would be it.

Shion seems content with whatever it is he sees in the boy, and he entrusts him to my care, although there is again a vacillation I have not seen before in him. I decide it must be the knowledge about the weakening disease that has him worried. I mention the illness to him and he promises to meditate in search of an answer, although he advances he would need to see the symptoms to be sure.

The child is acknowledged as an Aquarius apprentice and he settles in the Temple with me and the other two boys I found before him.

* * *

A year goes by peacefully. Camus and the other two kids become friends quickly and even though the training can become quite hard at times, the four of us form a rather happy sort of family. I know I should move the training camp to Siberia for good, instead of bringing them back and forth, but as the end of January draws near, I become worried and decide to postpone the definite move a little bit longer. The strange illness is likely to reappear soon, and I have high hopes that the Kyoko may be able to help the boy. Plus, the extreme cold is unlikely to do him any good during his sickness. Maybe others wouldn't give this much thought, but I am quite attached to these children and –even knowing as I do that their futures are quite grim- I'd rather save them as much pain as possible.

As I feared, Camus soon starts to feel feverish and ill. He looses his usual cheerful spirit and becomes a shadow of himself. But instead of staying back he insists on training with the other children, and I don't have the heart to refuse him. I know he will become weaker as days go by and February will be a sad and lonely month for him.

I keep a close eye on him while the three children go over the usual warm-up exercises. Camus seems to be holding up nicely, so I ask him and the tall German boy to spar for a bit while I concentrate on perfecting the other child's punch.

Shortly after, I hear Martin cry out and as I turn around to see what's the problem, I see Camus foot going straight to the other child's head. It's easy enough to catch him before he manages to land the kick, but it seems harder to get my telling off through to his brain –Camus just looks away as if I weren't talking to him.

Martin doesn't seem to be hurt and indeed he assures me everything is all right, so everything goes back to the normal routine, but I can't quite forget the look on Camus' eyes, that chilly indifference.

* * *

That same evening I ask for audience with the Kyoko and take the child with me for him to examine. Shion stands up from his throne and comes to Camus much in the same way he did a year ago. He feels his temperature, looks closely at his eyes and then sends him back to the temple, asking me to stay for a little longer.

"You know of the peoples of the north, and although you're most familiar with the Siberian people –especially the Yakut- I'm confident the late Aquarius Saint made sure you knew of the inuit. The reason is lost to us, but they have always been close to your Cloth. The most common belief is that the Yakut are truly inuit that stayed behind to protect the ice cloths and the training grounds..."

Of course I know of the inuit. I always loved the story about how they look for their loved ones in the aurora borealis, and see them dancing in the next life in the northern lights. I must admit for a brief moment I lost track of what the master was saying, and came back right on time to hear the last part of his speech:

"Their wise ones repeat "The great peril of our existence lies in the fact that our diet consists entirely of souls" and I'm afraid that truth may extend also to your kind. It's the mythical strength of the Aquarius saint, which has been lost for many generations. But such strength comes with a price. I can hardly advise you to send away a candidate to revive that power, but I do warn you to guard yourself and the other children -and may the Goddess want that Camus might learn from you something that would lessen the cost"

I don't think I've ever felt so cold. The greatness of Aquarius is a fine thing, all that talk about eating souls and paying a price didn't sound so great.

It's amazing how many things can run through one's mind in the short time that takes to walk from the Kyoko's chambers to my Temple. Camus is already in bed, in the room he shares with the other children. They're all deeply asleep, and none of them stirs as I sit down by Camus. He shivers and moves around, there is sweat running down his forehead, but I don't know how to relieve him and the Kyoko didn't have any help to offer in that respect, so all I can do is cover him better with the blanket. As I walk out, I realize Martin has given up one of his own covers, which sits now on top of Camus' bed.

I can't but smile. No matter what the myths say, they talk only about possibilities. The way we love and care for each other is a reality, nothing can change that.

* * *

February is almost over and Camus has been able to keep on training every day, I must say I'm proud of him. I think he's been trying to prove me that he can handle his illness well, because he has grown very intense lately. There is a cold determination in his blue eyes that I hadn't seen before, and he gives his all in the mock fights the kids have, even though he knows I don't approve of excesses.

This may be the power the master was talking about, the determination, the indifference towards anything but his duty, the single-mindness. And the price I guess is that consumption that I see in the kid, the way he looks lighter, more... ghostly.

I'm glad we've managed to overcome the shadow that lingered over our lives, and it's with joy in my heart that I leave for Siberia to ready the cabin for our arrival in March. It takes me just a couple of days to get everything ready and when I come back the Temple is exactly as I left it, clean and quiet; too quiet, actually. It's around midday and the children should be in their lunchtime break. Too cold, also.

I recognize the chill that fills the house but what I find inside is beyond my fears. The Swedish child is laying on the floor, covered in a thin layer of frost. A few steps away Martin does his best to stand in the way of Camus, but one of his legs is half-frozen and he staggers and falls.

I grab Camus and shake him to bring him back to his senses. When he turns around, I recognize the expression I saw that strange night at his home village.

"They have no right, and neither do you!"

His strength has somehow multiplied, and his cosmos burns brighter than I have ever seen in a child so young. Still, he's only one year into his training and I am a gold saint. I expand my own cosmos and hit a few points, and he falls limply into my arms.

* * *

I bury the child, Thomas, alone. Martin has been sent off to train under the hand of the Eridanus Saint and Camus doesn't even raise an eyebrow as I leave the temple with the body in my arms.

Eridanus and I are still very close and he takes in the boy with the kindness I expected of him, even though we both know it's unusual for the saints of the Sea region to be trained by anybody other than the Aquarius saint. Cetus, Eridanus and I agree this is a special case, and so does the Kyoko. They have no advice so as what to do with Camus, though, aside from the Kyoko's assertion that he is to be trained for the Aquarius Cloth.

I spend the following weeks examining the strange child who remains under my care. He doesn't speak about the others, though he clearly remembers them. His illness is gone, and yet the fixed determination remains. I see him gain in strength by the day, at speeds that both surprise and worry me. He'll be a powerful saint, no doubt to that, but at what cost?

The End of Chapter 4 -- Continued in Chapter 5

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